Discover how an insect diet could help the planet, how soaring skyscrapers reach beyond the clouds, and how the women that dared to think differently contributed to life-changing scientific discoveries, with the shortlist of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize.
The prize celebrates the very best science books for under-14s and aims to encourage young readers to satisfy their curiosity by immersing themselves in the wonderful world of science.
A shortlisting panel made up of scientists, an actor, a teacher, and authors has whittled down dozens of titles to six of the year’s most fascinating books.
The shortlist will now be sent out to over 700 UK schools, science clubs and groups, where more than 15,000 young judges will pore over the pages before declaring their winner.
The winning book will be unveiled at an online awards ceremony in March 2023.
Professor Alan Wilson, Fellow of the Royal Society and Chair of this year’s Young People’s Book Prize adult judging panel, said: “The shortlist this year will take you all the way from the top of the tallest skyscraper to the underground den of a family of wolves. I am pleased to see the exciting range of books available, and I hope the young judges enjoy the shortlist as much as we did.”
The shortlisted books for the Young People’s Book Prize 2022 are:
- Beetles for Breakfast...and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi
- Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst
- Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
- How Was That Built? by Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey
- If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illustrated by Aaron Cushley
- Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz
What the panel said about this year’s shortlist:
Beetles for Breakfast...and Other Weird and Wonderful Ways to Save The Planet by Madeleine Finlay, illustrated by Jisu Choi
Primary school science teacher Dr Katharine Pemberton said: “Each page explores a novel approach to save the planet. Young people can experience a lot of uncertainty around the climate and their future, and I was pleased to see so many ideas for positive action. Hopefully this will inspire them to be part of the solution and participate in the search for a better future.”
If the World Were 100 People by Jackie McCann, illustrated by Aaron Cushley
Award winning author Nathan Bryon said: “I was blown away by the way the facts were presented. I love the illustrations in this book, and how they bought the story to life. You can see a glimpse into everyone around the world, and how we all come in different shapes, sizes, colours and abilities.”
Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories by Kate Pankhurst
Children’s author and winner of the 2020 Young People’s Book Prize Izzi Howell said: “This book explores the achievements of women in science, from dancing in space (Mae Jemison) to changing the taste of Indian sugar (Jammaki Ammal). By including a diverse range of women and showing there is no ‘clear cut’ journey into science, this book should encourage more girls to picture themselves doing science too.”
How Was That Built? By Roma Agrawal, illustrated by Katie Hickey
Professor Alan Wilson, a Fellow of the Royal Society and Chair of the Judging Panel said: “I really enjoyed this book. We can find it easy to take for granted the things we see every day and this book explores the science and construction behind well-known buildings, landmarks and creations, from London’s sewers to the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
Evolutionary biologist and children’s author Dr Tiffany Taylor said: “This book tells the story of rewilding through a family of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. The story is filled with danger, tragedy and hope which I am sure will grip the young judges. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and my daughter begged for me to read it to her over and over again.”
Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott, illustrated by Marianna Madriz
Dr Tiffany Taylor said: “This book is a fantastic introduction into the world of the microscopic. It covers a broad range of topics with brilliant humour. It cleverly uses storytelling and comic book formats to not only tell the science, but also the people and the history behind microbiological discoveries. I challenge anyone who thinks bacteria and viruses are boring to read this book!”